Eagles defeat Montana, advance to FCS quarterfinals versus Illinois State


Jessica Hawley

Vernon Adams Jr. looking to pass the ball

By Fetlew Gebreziabher, Online Sports Editor

For the second time in less than a month, the Eastern Washington Eagles (11-2) defeated the University of Montana (9-5), 37-20, ending the Grizzlies’ season in the second round of the FCS playoffs.

“I want to really congratulate Montana and the season they had,” said head coach Beau Baldwin. “We know we are up against a battle every time we play them, and today was no different.”

Senior linebacker Ronnie Hamlin set the tone early after blocking the Grizzlies’ punt after their second drive of the game and setting up the Eagles’ offense on the two-yard line, which resulted in touchdown connection between quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and tight end Terry Jackson II.

Hamlin, who made the block, said the play was called from the sidelines. He finished with nine tackles bringing his career total to 457.

The Eagles took a 7-0 and never looked back scoring points in every quarter, including 14 points in the third. EWU lead by as much as 17 points.

EWU’s defense was solid once again, holding Montana to only 5/14 third-down conversions and two interceptions.

“The turnovers were huge and we’ve grown this season. We make sure we aren’t using youth as a crutch to why we aren’t successful,” said Baldwin. “No, we’re going to grow as a defense and keep getting better.

Adams, who is a Walter Payton finalist for the second straight season, finished 24 of 25 for 183 with a pair of touchdowns in the air, one on the ground and one interception. He also rushed for 63 yards on 12 carries.

“Going into this game, we knew that they were not going to give up the big plays because last time we hit them with four or five big plays. We knew they were probably going to play a little bit softer, and they did. I thought we did a great job. We did a better job taking the easy ones quicker and not being greedy,” said Adams.

The junior quarterback also passed the 10,000 career passing yards mark during the game.

Senior running back Quincy Forte had big game rushing for over 129 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown with a 6.1 average per carry.

Baldwin said Forte is still not 100 percent healthy but is far better than he was during the last meeting with the Grizzlies.

The Eagles will face Illinois State University (11-1) on Dec. 13 at Roos Field for a repeat of the 2012 quarterfinals game in the FCS playoffs, which EWU won, 51-35.